CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Spring in New England means a proliferation of potholes. And a number of residents along Middle Road are asking officials to be more aggressive in addressing the craters that have appeared along one of the town's main byways.
Sections of Middle Road — particularly on the north end — are so bad, drivers are using the middle or opposite lane to get around them.
"We're going to patch it and maintain it to the best of our abilities," said Town Administrator Carl McKinney on Wednesday. The entire road needs reconstruction, but "it's a million dollars a mile," he said.
Danielle Luchi said the area in front of her house on the road's north end is in poor condition and asked why the town was putting in bicycle lanes and not fixing the potholes.
McKinney explained that the money was coming through the state's Complete Streets program. The town had received $78,000 in grant money
to put in bicycle and pedestrian lanes on Middle Road from the intersection with Cross Road south to the pumphouse.
"We can spend that anywhere else," he said.
Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher agreed Middle Road is "very challenging," adding that "as soon as the weather gets halfway decent here, we're going to be able to address some of those holes."
Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut said he has been filling in with cold mix but it doesn't hold.
"There's no funding to have that road paved," he said. "We've been applying for a grant for that section of road this year but ... ."
The town's been applying for another MassWorks infrastructure grant to address Middle Road. Formerly known as STRAP (Small Town Rural Assistance Program), the grant program awards up to $1 million toward road and other infrastructure projects.
The town was awarded $920,000 in 2014 for the reconstruction of Cross Road. Towns are eligible to apply three years after an award. McKinney said later that the town's application had scored well but the awards are based on critical priorities and it lost out to other towns.
It took the town four years of trying before getting the Cross Road grant. Clarksburg receives about $75,000 in Chapter 90 road funds that can be used construction, maintenance and certain equipment. As McKinney noted, the cost of reconstructing one mile of road is about $1 million.
"It's unfortunate it's gotten to this point but we apply for grants to get as much we possibly can," said Boucher. "I travel and it's not just here. There are issues wherever you go."
The Middle Road also is a heavily traveled main connector to Vermont; the other connector, River Road, is a state highway maintained by the state Department of Transportation.
"The only good thing about the potholes is it slows the cars down," joked Luchi.
Lori Ann Aubin, who lives on the road's south end, said speeding has been concern. She's seen cars side by side outside her home racing north and has difficulty backing out of her driveway.
"It's only a matter of time, somebody is going to get hurt," she said.
Aubin said she'd been told that police won't ticket unless someone's going more than 45 mph because it won't hold up in court. The speed limit is 35 mph.
"My concern, and don't get me wrong, we need a new road, our road is awful, but now you put in new pavement ... ," she said. Plus, there are walkers and bikers along the road.
McKinney said he would like to see a four-way stop at Middle and Cross roads as a way to slow traffic.
"We've been told in the past we can't do it, I want to know why," he said. "As soon as I get an answer I'll let you know ... but if we had a four-way stop ... it should slow it down if they know they have to come to a complete stop."
Scott Levesque said he'd noticed that traffic would slow down after the police regularly parked at the pumphouse but would resume once they stopped. He hadn't seen a cruiser in a while, he said.
Boucher said he'd spoken to Police Chief Michael Williams about putting the radar sign out and patrolling, and added that he would instruct them to write tickets.
In other business, the board approved a transfer of $1,000 from the reserve transfer fund to purchase a backup server because the town doesn't have one. The backup would be located at the library.
• The board delayed action on a request from the state Department of Environmental Protection to post block access at the capped landfill and set fines for trespassing with motorized vehicles. In a letter to the town, the DEP had informed the town that there were signs of motorized vehicles on property and ordered action.
The fear is the vehicles would puncture the cap and allow leaching. McKinney advised spot fencing and knocking down trees to block access and to set a fine of $500. The town spent $300,000 30 years ago to cap the landfill, he noted, a borrowing that only now is coming off the books.
A neighbor said he hadn't seen a lot of people going through there. "I've never seen any issues in there and I've walked my dog," he said. "I've never seen any erosion of people passing through there."
McKinney said it wasn't an option, it was an order. Select Board member Karin Robert asked if there could be a path around it.
Boucher suggested postponing action until the next meeting so he and Robert could look over the property. Robert motioned, and both voted yes.